Jayson Tatum continues to be a target of NBA officials after some of his most emphatic plays. The Celtics All-Star was whistled for his 7th technical foul of the year midway through the second quarter on Friday night in a very questionable sequence. Tatum took the ball in transition coast-to-coast before finishing a dunk while being contested by Nuggets guard Peyton Watson. The momentum of the play caused Tatum to fly into the rim at full speed and he pulled himself to slow down his momentum before eventually falling back to the floor. However, officials whistled him for a technical foul based on how he hung on the rim after the two points.
The whistle caused an emphatic reaction from the Boston bench and TD Garden crowd as a whole since Tatum hanging on the rim looked more like a safety choice for the star forward rather than a taunt. NBA officials have been told hanging on the rim will be a point of emphasis heading into the year but a lot of them earned by Tatum and other Celtics this season have been debatable.
“That’s a rule that they just implemented that, quite frankly, I don’t think makes any sense,” Tatum said back in November of technicals for hanging on the rim. “Anybody that’s ever played or dunked the ball, you know your momentum, just trying to make sure you’re stable when you land and make sure nobody’s underneath you.”
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Jamal Murray made a free throw awarded to the Nuggets after the technical but the Celtics responded with a 9-1 run to help build upon an early lead against the defending champions.
While officials have reduced the number of technicals the Celtics have received in recent weeks for hanging on the rim, this is a whistle that could be revisited by the NBA rules committee this offseason. When it comes to safety, players like Tatum would clearly like to be able to control their body before lowering themselves to the floor after a dunk.
“Maybe they want me to just let go and fall on my back,” Tatum quipped back in November.